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Cablegate: Ministry of Labor Response to Usg Demarche On

VZCZCXRO1878
OO RUEHDE RUEHDIR
DE RUEHMK #0305/01 0921427
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 021427Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANAMA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6666
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHBVAKS/COMUSNAVCENT PRIORITY
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAMA 000305

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

DOL FOR ILAB/JAMES RUDE
USTR FOR JBUNTIN
USDOC FOR 4520/ITA/MAC/ONE - T HOFFMAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ELAB PHUM PGOV BA HUMRIT
SUBJECT: MINISTRY OF LABOR RESPONSE TO USG DEMARCHE ON
STRIKE BAN

REF: A. MANAMA 194
B. STATE 13806
C. 2006 MANAMA 1979

Sensitive but unclassified; please protect accordingly. Not
for Internet distribution.

1. (SBU) Ministry of Labor Director of Public and
International Relations Subah Salem Al Dossary passed to the
Embassy March 26 a letter containing the Ministry's response
to Ref B points delivered by the Ambassador to Minister of
Labor Dr. Abdulmajeed Al Alawi on February 28 (Ref A). The
points express USG concerns about Prime Ministerial Executive
Order 62 (Ref C), which bans strikes in several sectors and
appears to go further than ILO guidelines regarding bans on
strikes. An unofficial translation of the Arabic letter from
the Ministry of Labor is provided below.

2. (SBU) In its response, the Ministry noted that the
International Labor Organization (ILO) has not issued a
convention that addresses labor's right to strike. The ILO
has stated that each country has the right to organize the
practice of labor's right to strike even if this requires
banning strikes in certain sectors where strikes may disrupt
the course of daily life for citizens. The Ministry's
response stated that Bahrain's identification of vital
sectors does not differ from the vital sectors specified by
legislation in other Arab and foreign countries. Although
strikes are banned in certain sectors, the response also
noted that Bahraini legislation has made it mandatory to
employ reconciliation and arbitration to resolve conflicts
between workers and management in these sectors.

3. (SBU) Begin letter text:

The Ministry of Labor's Reply to U.S. Embassy Concerns on the
Ban of Strikes in Vital Sectors

The Ministry of Labor in the Kingdom of Bahrain reaffirms
that identification of the vital sectors where strikes are
banned, which have been mentioned in Edict (Executive Order)
Number 62 of 2006, has come in accordance with international
labor standards, as well as with what is in practice (in
other countries). The following points need to be recognized.

First, the International Labor Organization (ILO) has not
issued a convention that addresses labor's right to strike.
The only international agreement that has addressed this
right is the International Protocol for Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, which was issued by the UN in 1966. Article
8 of this protocol states that strikes are to be practiced in
accordance with local legislation of individual countries.
By stating so, the protocol has outlined the legitimacy of
the right to strike as a means to defend both economic and
social rights of workers, and has given local legislation of
each country the authority to govern labor's practice of this
right.

Second, the Union Freedom Committee at the ILO has stated on
more than one occasion that each country has the right to
organize the practice of labor's right to strike even if this
requires banning strikes in certain sectors, which are called
"vital sectors," where strikes may disrupt the course of
daily life for citizens. This has been principally addressed
by Bahraini legislation in Article 21 of the Trade Unions Law
issued as law by decree number 33 of 2002 (and amended by law
number 49 of 2006) in which vital sectors have been defined.
It authorizes the Prime Minister to identify those sectors,
so that the order can be amended whenever needed, avoiding
the difficulty of the lengthy, complicated process of
amending legislation. This is the approach taken with
comparable legislation; vital sectors are defined (by
legislation) and identification of the sectors is left to
ministerial orders because they can be easily amended as
required.

Third, the vital sectors in which strikes are banned, which
are specified by the aforementioned Prime Ministerial
executive order, do not differ from the vital sectors that
are specified by legislation in other Arab and foreign
countries. When those vital sectors are identified, the
continuity of service provided to citizens has been taken
into consideration.

MANAMA 00000305 002 OF 002

Fourth, the Prime Minister's executive order includes the
same vital sectors that were listed in Article 21 of the
Trade Unions Law before it was amended by law number 49 of
2006. The executive order included additional vital sectors
that are essential to the general public, such as educational
institutions and the oil and gas sectors. It is unrealistic
to allow strikes in educational institutions that have a
limited time frame and a tight academic schedule. These days
are difficult to replace if strikes are allowed. Moreover,
it is illegal to strike in the oil and gas sectors because
oil and gas are the main sources of income for the government
of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The executive order also banned
strikes in transportation, which is considered an essential
facility for the general public and which affects many other
sectors in the country. Identification of these sectors took
into consideration the importance of these sectors to the
general interest of citizens.

Fifth, even though the Bahraini legislature has banned
strikes in the aforementioned vital sectors, it has at the
same time made it mandatory to employ reconciliation and
arbitration to resolve conflicts between workers and
management in these sectors. This policy meets international
labor standards and is in line with other laws in these cases.

Sixth, the mechanism of reconciliation and arbitration has,
in many cases, resolved conflicts between workers and
management, thus preventing strikes.

Finally, the Ministry affirms that the Prime Minister's
executive order banning strikes in vital sectors can be
amended if one of the listed sectors is found not to be vital
any longer. The Bahraini legislature did not specify the
vital sectors; the sectors are specified by an executive
order from the Prime Minister that is easier to amend when
required.

End text.

********************************************* ********
Visit Embassy Manama's Classified Website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/nea/manama/
********************************************* ********
MONROE

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